The Queen's Command

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Chapter 4

Anwen looked at herself in the long mirror of the bedroom as the dressmaker adjusted her dress. It was more beautiful than she could have dreamed. The bodice was low cut with most of it being red, except in the center a magnificent golden tree was stitched. The long sleeves were a sheer material with golden embroidery done in vines and leaves. The skirt was very full. The majority of it was the same red as the bodice, except there was a golden panel on the front in which the red fabric overlapped.

It fit very well, and Anwen was impressed such a garment could be done in such a short time.

“This is exquisite, mam,” said Anwen as she turned to look fully at herself. “I can’t imagine you accomplished all of this in less than two weeks.”

“I have worked very hard, your highness, but I am happy with the result. Even more so now that you seemed well pleased.”

“I am very pleased,” said Anwen as she looked at her golden hair that tumbled in curls down her back and shoulders. Some of it was pulled up into a neat braid on top of her head where a golden tiara sat. It was one Maddoc’s mother had kept in the summer palace, and he didn’t think his mother would mind her borrowing it.

“Perhaps you should wear your hear up, your majesty,” said the dressmaker as she packed up her things. “It would show off the back of the dress nicely, and you do have a lovely neck.”

“No, the king has requested I wear my hair down. He likes it this way.”

The dressmaker shrugged as Mrs. Drivens gave the woman a harsh look. She turned to Anwen with a soft smile. “You look lovely, your highness, and the king will be delighted. All that matters today is what you and he want.”

“I should be going. I do not want to be late for my own wedding,” said Anwen gathering her skit and turning.

Mrs. Drivens nodded. “Graves is already at the boat waiting for us. He will get us there on time.”

Anwen thanked the dressmaker again and made her way downstairs. Mrs. Drivens helped her with her dress as they walked to the boat where Graves handed her in. It didn’t feel real sitting in the boat in her grand gown as they rowed towards the village. Soon she would stand in the temple and pledge her life to Maddoc. A year ago, she had been heartbroken, feeling as if she would never love again. She thought she would never get over the betrayal of Lachlan. Now, she felt as though she was the most fortunate woman in the land.

Lachlan had hurt her deeply. She was in love with him at the time. His betrayal left her feeling unsure and unwanted. She struggled with her feelings of inadequacy all her young life due to her Gift’s underdevelopment. After the shame of Lachlan leaving her for Gwendolyn, she wasn’t sure she would ever recover. Now, she could see it was silly to ever think that way.

Lachlan was not the love of her life as she thought. He was a girlish infatuation she latched onto when she felt adrift. He father’s death and the continuing trouble with her Gift had made her feel incomplete. She looked for completion in Lachlan, and it was a mistake.

Now that she had some distance and time between the event, she could see how it never could have worked between her and Lachlan. She would have grown tired of him, and he never would have been faithful to her. They would have been trapped together, trying to make it work, while both wanting a way out. With Maddoc it was different.

He knew who she was, the good and the bad, and he didn’t want her to change. He might have gotten angry with her at times, and she might have gotten frustrated with him, but they both still wanted and loved each other. They didn’t need each other to fill any holes or fix anything. They wanted each other because they were right together. There was no need to fix all their flaws or be perfect. Together they would find a way forward even when things weren’t completely perfect.

Everything about their situation was perilous and strange, but Anwen was still joyful. They were getting married in a hurried ceremony in an out of the way place, but all she could feel was happiness that soon she and Maddoc would be united forever. She knew they would face difficulties all their lives as everyone does, but as long as they were together it would all be worth it.

The boat docked on the pier, and Graves helped Anwen to her feet. She could tell he was dressed in his best clothes as was Mrs. Drivens. Besides the priest, they would be the only witnesses to the wedding of their king, and she knew they took it seriously.

They walked to the temple together. Anwen was careful to stick to the cobblestone streets and keep any mud or dirt off of her dress. People who were out and about stopped and stared at her, but she paid them no mind. Her eyes were fixed on the temple as it came closer and closer. Maddoc was in there waiting for her.

As they approached the door, Graves bowed to her and walked ahead as she and Mrs. Drivens waited while he walked in. The woman turned to her. “It must be difficult to do this without your mother and those you love, your highness.”.

“I do wish my mother was here,” admitted Anwen. “I know she will be disappointed to miss my wedding, but she will understand. I wish to be securely bound to my king before we make our journey south. I know this is the right thing to do.”

Mrs. Drivens nodded. “I have not known you long, and I am just a servant, but I would like to say that I believe our king has chosen his queen very well. It may not mean much, but you have my loyalty and devotion, your highness. I shall be proud to call you my queen.”

Anwen took the woman’s hand. “It means a great deal to me. I believe you are a wise and good woman. To know I have your approval is very dear to me. I look forward to hearing your advice for many years to come when we visit. I hope you do not mind if I write you from time to time when we are elsewhere.”

“I shall be honored with any time or correspondence you give me. Now, I am sure our king is desperate to see his bride, so we should go in. As long as you are sure.” Mrs. Drivens gave her a small smile.

“I am very sure. I have never been more sure of anything in my life.”

The woman squeezed her hand and let it go before opening the door. She held it open as Anwen walked in and stood at the back of the long room. Anwen looked ahead and could see Maddoc standing by the priest. He had turned as the door opened and was now staring at her as she stared back at him. She waited until Mrs. Drivens walked to the front of the temple and sat by Graves before she walked forward towards Maddoc.

There was no music or large crowd. There were no grand decorations or flowers. There was nothing but a simple town temple, two dedicated servants, and an elderly priest. Anwen was sure it was nothing like the uniting of kings and queens before them, but what did it matter?. As she walked forward and stared at Maddoc who wore a dark blue tunic with his family standard of a fox stitched on it in silver, she didn’t care how ordinary everything was.

It was not the place, crowd, or pomp that would make their wedding special. It was their love and dedication to each other that she knew would truly make their union something extraordinary. As she approached Maddoc, he held out his hand. She took it as they both stared at each other. He brought her close and gave her a very small smile before they both turned towards the priest.

Maddoc had explained how marriage ceremonies were done in Calumbria, and it was much like her own. They took each other’s hands and stared at one another, saying words of promise.

“My life is yours. Whatever I own, experience and know shall be shared with you. None shall come before you. I shall call you my wife as I protect, honor, and cherish you.”

“My life is yours. I share with you all that I am,” said Anwen as she gripped his hands. “None shall come before you. I shall call you my husband as I love, support, and honor you.”

The priest said more things asking for the gods’ blessings on their union. He talked a little of what it meant to be a king and queen united to rule the kingdom. Anwen heard little as she stared at Maddoc. His eyes were so clear and full of love, that tears came to her own. She felt as if so much of her life had led her to this and to him. Towards the end of the ceremony, the priest took their hands and held them together, putting his own on top.

“We pray to the gods of Calumbria to watch over Maddoc and Anwen. May they turn to each other in times of difficulty, may they lean on each other when there is pain, and may they see the end of numerous happy days together,” said the priest.

As he held their hands together and was silent, Anwen prayed to her own gods that she would be a good wife to Maddoc and worthy to be called his queen. The priest opened his eyes and let go of their hands. “You have been joined together by the gods, and professed your love and respect. What is done cannot be undone. Live well, and take care of each other.”

Maddoc nodded and smiled at Anwen before bending down and giving her a long, tender kiss. “That is it, my love,” said Maddoc quietly. “You are my wife and I am your husband.”

She smiled up at him and whispered. “My king.”

He took her hand and kissed it. “My queen.”

They walked from the temple together as Mrs. Drivens and Graves stood up. Anwen turned to nod and smile at them, and they both returned the gesture. Maddoc took her swiftly to one of the palace boats on the pier. He rowed them across the sea to the island as he gazed at her, but he said little.

When they got back to the summer palace, the door was opened by one of the young maids. Maddoc escorted Anwen inside and looked at the maid. “Is all done as I asked?”

“Yes, your majesty. Food and wine are waiting in your room.”

“Good. We do not need to be disturbed for the rest of the afternoon or evening. If we need anything, we shall pull the bell cord,” said Maddoc as he started escorting Anwen to the stairs.

They made it to the king’s bedroom on the top floor. Anwen walked inside as Maddoc closed the door. She turned as he walked up to her and took her into his arms, kissing her.

“Are you alright?” she asked as she pulled back.

He nodded. “I know I have been quiet, but I have felt too much.”

“You are happy, aren’t you?”

He kissed her again. “I have never been happier, Anwen.” He looked at her, running his hands down her sides. “When you walked in that temple, I don’t believe I have ever seen anything so beautiful. I don’t know how I repeated the words to be bonded to you. All I wanted was to bring you here and have you all to myself.”

“Well, you have your wish now, my king. I hope you have plans for us.” She knew he had been struggling with fear he would lose her. He seemed afraid to hurt her. Since they came to the summer palace, he had held and touched her as though she was made of glass. She gave him a teasing smile. “It’s been a week, your majesty. Time is up.”

Wrapping one arm around her waist, he brought her against him. “I am ready, Anwen. Even if I wasn’t I don’t think I could resist taking you as my wife.” He bent down and kissed her neck before moving on to her chest, his hand coming up to caress her breast over her dress. “You also look so very tempting in this dress.”

“I’m glad you like it. I’m afraid you shall have to pay more than a few coins for it.”

“I suppose I should be more careful than I wish in taking it off of you,” said Maddoc, his hands going to her back, looking for her ties.

“Please do. If I am every crowned as your queen, I will wish to wear it.”

He stopped untying her dress and looked at her. “You are my queen now, Anwen. I do not need some official crowning ceremony to claim you as such. Everyone we meet will show you your due as the queen.”

“I do not need others to claim me as their queen, Maddoc,” said Anwen as she put her arms around him. “I just need you to claim me.”

He gave her a wonderfully, wicked smile, and kissed her as his hands went back to undo her dress. Once he had the ties undone, he slipped it down, and she stepped out of it. He looked at her in her simple thin shift and made a noise.

“Perhaps, I like you like this better than even your dress.” He moved his hands up her sides against the thin fabric.

“I’m not sure this would be appropriate for a wedding or a crowning, but I could have saved you much coin if I had known.”

He smiled as he backed her towards the bed. “Of course, the way I like you best wouldn’t have cost me one coin. Though the thought of others seeing you unclothed is not appealing to me.” He laid her on the bed and hovered over her, his hands working their way up under her shift.

She looked up at him and kissed him. “I am yours, Maddoc. No one will see me as such except for you. I want now one, but you, my king.”

He pulled her simple clothing over her head. “And you know I have belonged to you for a while, my queen.”

He leaned down to kiss her, and Anwen was lost in the bliss of being with him. There was something new that late afternoon in their lovemaking. She had been with him many times, but now that they were truly married, everything seemed different. As he kissed her, touched her, and pleasured her, she thought he did so with an intent to claim her. The thought brought her usual desire for him even higher. By the time he was unclothed and over her, she was desperate to feel him inside of her. She wanted to truly be with him as husband and wife.

He paused and looked down on her, and she was scared he was going to pull away. She wasn’t sure she could stand it. Instead, he gazed at her before saying, “I love you, Anwen.”

Before she could respond, he thrust into her, and she found words impossible to form. She focused on the feeling of him on her and in her. She gasped his name as his lips moved down her neck. She arched up against him, wanting to feel more and more of him. His arms wrapped around her, and he brought her closer off the bed. It had been so long since she had been with him that she knew it wouldn’t take much to bring her to the peak. She felt it building within in her, and as he continued to love her, it almost became more than she could take.

“Maddoc,” she gasped. She tried to say more, but he shifted and somehow moved even deeper into her. She felt the world start slipping away. She mumbled something else but she hardly knew what. She felt her desire come to its head, as she moaned his name one last time before she lost all awareness.

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